My City

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From Cairo Road, Cha Cha Cha, Freedom Way to Lumumba
And every adjacent street from Ben Bella on the South End right to the North End
These names are no coincidence, these streets and their people ooze life
This rectangle is dotted with banks, restaurants, boutiques, hotels, bureaus, pharmacies, internet cafes and shops of all sorts
There auto shops, barbershops, bookshops, wholesale shops and just shops…and a couple of abandoned buildings too
The corridors, sidewalks and streets are strewn with women carrying babies on their back
Trading, selling something, anything to make a quick buck
The well-arranged merchandise boasts quite a range
Beans, caterpillars, carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, groundnuts, peas
Cucumbers, okra, peppers, cabbages, kapenta, rice, pumpkin leaves
Freshly fried samosa, dondos and vitumbuwa
It’s a cornucopia of colours and shapes, each with a distinct texture and a radiant story to tell
Don’t forget the ever present bananas, apples and oranges
Each hasty transaction ends with the flash of a smile
The items find their way into a plastic bag or get wrapped on some old newspaper page
So you’ll have something to read when you’re home
Urchins aptly called street kids roam the streets day and night barely getting by, begging and mugging passer-by’s while sniffing glue
Young men my age walk these streets
Their products hang on the walls and on their arms
They walk around in skinny and baggy jeans, the baggy ones usually sag
They sell everything, from the simple yet handy plastic bags
To belts, sun glasses, dresses, blazers, underwear, toothpicks, earbuds and sweets
Combs, shoe and hair brushes, smart and dumb phones, tablets and all other gizmos in between
And if you’re lucky you might come across a genuine pair of Italian made moccasins
But it’s the perfumes that will quickly grab your attention: from sweet scents to offensive stenches, they are all found here
Throw in some cigarette smoke, aromas from the restaurants and food stands, odours from the pharmacies
Fragrances worn by the people you’re literally rubbing shoulders with and good old body odour and what you have is an overload of my sense of smell
But nothing is as fascinating as the sounds of this city,
These streets move to the rhythm of my heart beat
This is the soundtrack to my life, a fine concerto by the Lusaka Streets Philharmonic Orchestra:
Soft taps and heavy stomps from tens of thousands of footsteps
Groaning doors from rusty hinges
Rustling of paper, cloth and plastic
Babies on their mothers and grandmothers backs chuckling, sometimes crying
Vendors negotiating with buyers
Some barely audible, then a scream here, a holler there and an exaggerated yell, all notifying people of a clearance sale
Welcome to salaula, here second hand articles of clothing can go for as low as k1
The most popular gear here are graphic and franchised cartoon characters t-shirts, keepsakes from rock concerts with detailed tour dates and American high school or varsity sports apparel
There’s something alluring about a sweltering street teeming with small multi coloured commuter buses as they zip and zig zag the clogged street at rush hour
Inside the passengers packed like sardines more often than not witness the drivers and conductors verbal vomit:
The eternal lament, the uproarious laughter, the jaw dropping curses, the inspiring stories aided by a pensive stare, the monosyllabic responses and the deafening silence but most of all the outrageous hooting
This is a portrait of the city I love
An abundance of colours
A fusion of smells
A symphony of sounds
These streets are the strokes in the mural that is my city
And it’s alive from Sunday to Sunday
Everyday someone hopes to make it off the street someday

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2 thoughts on “My City

    sannie zulu said:
    February 19, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    I love lusaka!!!!!!!!!!!!! Nice piece baby ❤ I love it

      Chief_want responded:
      February 20, 2016 at 6:31 am

      Thanks fusa, come to Lusaka so we can go crazy again

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